Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Frenchland Tower (Dumfries) - Past and Present

The roofless ruin of this attractive little tower house stands close to the border town of Moffat in Dumfriesshire on the road leading out to St Mary’s Loch.

Frenchland Tower
The ruins of Frenchland Tower circa 1900 observed by two castle enthusiasts from the past

Frenchland Tower is of two periods – the first a plain unvaulted tower of the 16th century with a wall walk carried on projecting corbels. In the following century it was converted to the L-plan style by the addition of a wing. This allowed the installation of a scale-and-plait staircase – quite an advanced feature for such a remote tower. At the same time the wall walk was removed and a thatched gabled roof substituted. The redundant corbels were left in place when the walls were heightened, preserving the level of the original parapet. The tower was later slated.

The walls are lime-bonded random rubble which were originally, as was universal, harled and lime-washed.

There may have been an earlier tower on this site as is suggested by the earthworks enclosing the present tower – something that would not be expected at this late date. Also, the tower is situated awkwardly within these features which are suggestive of moats and ditches. The French family held this land in the 13th century so perhaps we are looking at the traces of earlier habitation.

Today Frenchland is in a sorrowful state with only the gables standing to the full height but the tower is eminently restorable as a private dwelling should someone share such a vision for its future. It is a scheduled monument.

Frenchland Tower present
Frenchland Tower still stands – just – today

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 27 Aug 2016 Updated: 24 Jan 2018
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